Chhatrapati Shivaji’s iconic claw-like weapon, also called ‘Bagh Nakh’, is all set to return to Maharashtra in India from the UK after 350 years. It is set to bring back to mark the 350th year celebration of the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji. This historic fist-load dagger was used by the Marathas in the battle against the Bijapur kingdom in the Deccan. It was later gifted to an official of East India Company named ‘James Grant Duff’ who was a resident in the kingdom of Maratha and has been taken to Europe and displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A Museum) in London since 1824.
Maharashtra State Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar will visit London on October 3rd to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the museum authorities for the return of the ‘bagh nakh’. It is said that the dagger is being brought back to India for the purpose of exhibition at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum in South Mumbai. The exhibition will be held for a period of just three years.
In addition to bringing back the bagh nakh, attempts will also be made to get back other artifacts of Shivaji, like the Jagdamba sword. Currently, the sword is also on display at the V&A Museum.
Bagh-Nakh is a claw-like dagger that originated in the Indian subcontinent during the medieval period. It was used mainly by the indigenous rulers of Rajput clans. It is particularly associated with the Maratha Empire. It was Shivaji who popularized this weapon all over the world. This weapon is designed with rings to secure it to the thumb and index finger, which makes it fit over the knuckles between the fingers like a fist-load. It is called tiger claws as it contains four curved blades that resemble the claws of a tiger. Bagh-Nakh can be hidden under the palms. It is so strong that it can cut deep into the skin and flesh of the enemy.
History of ‘Shivajis’s Bagh-Nakh’
The bahk-nakh was the most common weapon used by the indigenous Maratha Empire. Chhatrapati Shivaji was the founder of the Maratha Empire and is considered one of the bravest souls on Earth. He fought many battles to expand and consolidate his kingdom and bring it to glory. Bagh Nakh was an important and inevitable part of most of his battles. The ‘Shivaji’s Bagh Nakh’ that is set to return from the UK is an iconic and historic piece of artifact, as it was used by Shivaji in the ‘Battle of Pratapgad’ to kill the general of the opponent kingdom. The Battle of Pratapgad, which took place on November 10, 1659, was between the Marathas and the Deccan kingdom of Bijapur. The General of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur kingdom, Afzal Khan, was killed by Chhatrapati Shivaji by using this historic weapon. The victory of the Marathas was a milestone for their political career and kingdom expansion. It was one of the longest battles fought in Deccan and Maratha’s first major military triumph against an important regional power. Celebrating the return of ‘Bakh Nakh’ is symbolic of celebrating the extraordinary valor of the greatest Maratha ruler, Chhatrapati Shivaji.
It will also be a great opportunity for every history enthusiast to personally see and learn about various warfare techniques used by indigenous rulers in both internal and external battles.